Leave Our Gigs Alone

Enda Kenny and Ian Bland
Enda Kenny and Ian Bland (photo by Jools Thatcher)

Jools and I went to see Ian and The Lamington Drive Orchestra (and yes this is the infamous MFI Ian for those of you who came in late). Needless to say I  had my bag of toys with us and for once all our tech worked.

This is one of those priceless moments where you get to capture a performance that while it was not one of  the performers best it WAS one of the highlights of the night.

Enda Kenny joined Ian and The  Lamington Drive Orchestra on stage for a song that had been written in response to some really really really stupid Victorian Govt. legislation that requires music venues to have security guards (mainly I suspect so that all the small venues will close down and their mates at the casino will be the last venue standing – but that would be me  – I may be cynical but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – I digress)

So here it is, rough around the edges,  a PA that was struggling to keep up,  a song that had never been rehearsed before and so far from perfect that there is a gap bigger than the governments credibility on defending the arts, the musicians and the communities who are lucky enough to still enjoy the pleasure of a night down the local.

And for all it’s imperfections I love it.

Leave Our Gigs Alone [audio:LeaveOurGigsAlone.mp3]
You may recognise the tune but it is really totally different to that other song.

Recorded on the ZoomH4n and there will be some other highlights from the gig posted later.

Password Exporter

Oh Dear… More Firefox zealotry.

Following up on I sent you WHAT!!, today lets look at the reverse, How do you move your passwords, to a different PC.

The answer (assuming you are using Firefox… and of course you all are) is a Firefox extension called Password Exporter. This nifty little extension allows you to export and import your saved passwords and rejected sites between computers.

You can find your passwords in Firefox under Tools -> Options -> Privacy tab -> Passwords tab -> View Saved Passwords button -> Import/Export Passwords tab

The extension allows you to create either an XML or CSV text file of your password information and if you are paranoid ( remember “trust no-one”) you can encrypt it. If you are like me and are moving from computer to computer it is incredibly handy. The Password Exporter is also great for anyone who’s using Thunderbird, too. The Password Exporter extension is a free download, works everywhere Firefox does. And as a bonus you can save the exported file using Kee Pass.

So What is KeePass?
OK how many passwords do you have? There’s a password for the Windows network logon, your e-mail account, your other email account, the Gmail account, your home-page’s ftp password, online passwords for just about every second website you visit, etc. etc. etc. It’s a mind bogglingly large list. And because you are using different passwords for each account (because if you use the same password everywhere and someone gets this password you are going to have a major problem).

KeePass is a free/open-source password manager or safe which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key-disk. So you only have to remember one single master password or insert the key-disk to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using serious encryption I taleked about this last year

http://thatchspace.com/wordpress/2005/10/02/keepass-the-open-source-password-safe/

Welcome to the 21st century, it turns out George Orwell may have been an optimist.

The Final Frontier

Newsflash: We’re going to die.

Now if even Arthur Dent can figure it out in the first Hitchhikers book, why is “snuffing it” such a taboo subject? I dont know about the rest of you, but have you ever noticed that whenever the conversation even approximates heading towards the topic of “terminal”, every one twitches.

Which is weird because if the shrinks are to be believed we have seen about 12 gazillion “deaths” on the television, in the movies, front pages of newspapers and lets not forget the Roadrunner cartoons. No wait, they’re just violent, the coyote never dies… ever.

Anyway what prompted this is the article by Lee Aundra Temescu in DISCOVER Vol. 27 entitled.
20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Death

Here are a couple to get you started…

  • The practice of burying the dead may date back 350,000 years, as evidenced by a 45-foot-deep pit in Atapuerca, Spain, filled with the fossils of 27 hominids of the species Homo heidelbergensis, a possible ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans.
  • Never say die: There are at least 200 euphemisms for death, including “shuffle off this mortal coil,” “just add maggots,” and “sleep with the Tribbles” (a Star Trek favorite) and my favourite “snuffed it”.
  • No American has died of old age since 1951. That was the year the government eliminated that classification on death certificates.
  • The trigger of death, in all cases, is lack of oxygen. Its decline may prompt muscle spasms, or the “agonal phase,” from the Greek word agon, or contest.

It’s a good (if slightly weird) read.

TEDTalks

Every year in the States there is a four day conference held in the States called TED ( technology – entertainment – design). It’s Go to this link and it will explain the rationale behind TED far far better than I can. But the really cool thing is that they are posting 15 minute plus selected presentations so we can enjoy what the presenters have to say without paying the $4500.

Here is the hype…

Each year, TED hosts some of the world’s most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. The talks they deliver have had had such a great impact, we thought they deserved a wider audience. So now – with our sponsor BMW and production partner WNYC/New York Public Radio we’re sharing some of the most remarkable TED talks with the world at large. Each week, we’ll release a new talk, in audio and video, to download or watch online. For best effect, plan to listen to at least three, start to finish. They have a cumulative effect…

So find an hour and here are my pick for three TEDTalks (audio, video)

Lets start with the talk by Jeff Han. I saw him demonstrate his touch sensitive screen concept on Beyond Tomorrow a month or so back. It just wiped me out the second I saw it, it was so intuitive, in 3 seconds you could see how it worked. I want it. By the way Jeff is an incredibly passionate communicator,

Jeff Han is a research scientist for NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and the inventor of an “interface-free” touch-driven computer screen. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 09:32)
Audio
Download Video

Nicholas Negroponte is a amazing character, you tend to get dragged on board his vision or you run away. He doesn’t leave a lot of people in the middle ground.

Nicholas Negroponte is former Director of the MIT Media Lab, and founder of the non-profit, One Laptop Per Child. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 18:21)

Watch Online
Download Audio

Download Video

Number three would have to be Amy Smith, the work she is doing in under developed countries starting with building a better charcoal and working up from there, is astounding.

MIT engineer Amy Smith designs ingenious low-cost devices to tackle tough problems in developing countries. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 15:48)

Watch Online
Audio
Download Video

There is a talk buy Jimmy Wales about Wikipedia, some astounding musical prodigies and a bunch of other stuff. This is inspirational stuff.

Not to be missed.

Websites that changed the world

The Observer has a list of Websites that changed the world, I must admit that I am not really surprised to find Thatchspace there but some of the choices seem odd.

A lot of the usual suspects were there, Yahoo, Google, ebay, Amazon, slashdot and at number 11 was salon.com, a site that I read frequently and have done for a long time. I was unaware of how it came in to existence. Here is some of the post…

11. salon.com
Founded: David Talbot, 1995, US
Users: Between 2.5 and 3.5m unique visitors per month

What is it? Online magazine and media company Salon grew out of a strike. When the San Francisco Examiner was shut for a couple of weeks in 1994 a few of its journalists taught themselves HTML and had a go at doing a newspaper with new technology. They found the experience liberating, and David Talbot, the Examiner’s arts editor, subsequently gave up his job and launched the kind of online paper he had always wanted to work for. Salon was originally a forum for discussing books, but the editors quickly realised it had to be more journalistic than that. They aimed at creating a ‘smart tabloid’, not afraid to be mischievous while maintaining a rigour with news. Talbot believes that online journalism came of age with the death of Princess Diana and the Lewinsky scandal. It proved with those events that it could be nimbler and more gossipy, it could update itself continually and, crucially, let readers join in. Salon’s Table Talk forum established a new relationship between a news outfit and its audience, letting readers write themselves into the story.

What I find interesting is the omissions, for example where the hell is Sourceforge? The main repository of open source projects.

Where is CSS Zen Garden , every time I read an article by the people who write websites rather than the people who consume them, this site name pops up as a major influence.

The Mozilla website should probably get a mention as well, if FireFox hasn’t changed the the world (200 million downloads and forcing Microsoft to do something about fixing the browser 70% of the world uses daily) then I don’t know what has.

Got 15 minutes and Windows XP? Time for a Tune-Up

There are about a million of these “go faster” things on the net, dont believe me? Type windows xp tuneup into Google and it will find over 2 million pages.

So how do you find a good one? Tricky.

First get your expectations in order.
If you have an old “4 cylinder 2 door with a lift up back” PC no amount of tweaking and clean-up is going to get it to perform like one of those fancy “briight red V12 Ferrari” PCs. In all honesty it isn’t going to run as well as it did when you first got it.

Why? Well the never-ending flood of Microsoft patches , virus checking updates, firewalls, antispyware updates, and a system tray that takes up half the bottom of your screen would be good culprits. All these things add up over time. And NO you cant just delete them all. Your PC would have a life expectancy measured in milliseconds once you connected it to the net.

But all that being said. It is still worth doing.

Here is the blurb from a post at Tweak3D…

A fine-tuned Windows XP PC can run quite fast even it’s seriously lacking in the memory and CPU department. Before you chuck out your PC to buy a new one, try stripping some of the rust that’s built-up over the years; the results may surprise you.

It’s probably your operating system that’s slow, not the PC. It’s software, not hardware – you know, invisible 1s and 0s held in an electric field representing your data. Your computer is still fast, but there’s a ton of stuff slowing it down. There’s more 1s where there should be 0s and your PC is killing itself fighting an impossible battle to burn off this fat.

We’ve seen Pentium II machines with 128 MB RAM run XP faster than Pentium IVs with 4x the clock speed and 4x the RAM – so what gives? This article will help you figure out why your PC is running slow and outline exact steps to fix it quickly, before throwing in the towel with a format, restore, or new PC purchase.

Tweak3D.net – Windows XP 15 Minute Tune-Up

I remember reading an article that said most people would rather buy a new PC and start again from scratch than do all this stuff. Some people dont have that option.